David Fitch recently released the book The Church of us vs them: Freedom from a faith that feeds on making enemies. I can’t imagine a book that is more timely, more spot on, and more in need of being read by all followers of Jesus. Progressive Followers of Jesus need to read this. Conservative followers of Jesus need to read this. And those who don’t identify as either progressive or conservative need to read this.
All one has to do is go on social media (Facebook or Twitter) and see the vitriol between people about almost anything (be in social issues, theological issues or political issues). All one has to do is get into face to face conversations with people to see the antagonism that can exist when people disagree about various things. Many people (both followers of Jesus and those who aren’t) in the midst of these issues fall into one of two responses to differences…they either want to fight or they want to flee. But beneath both responses we see people taking sides, making the person on the other side- the other, and forgetting the call of Jesus to love- those you agree with and even more so, those you disagree with.
So what is the alternative to fighting or fleeing, and making the other person (or people, or type of person- i.e. conservatives, progressives, etc..) the enemy? Making that group “them” and opposition to “us” They are wrong, we are right. How do we move beyond this bifurcation of our world? God calls us out of this enemy making space and into a space beyond enemies. Fitch puts it this way, “Beyond speaks to the way this place is not a middle space or a place of compromise between two positions. Rather, this space is from God, opened by the presence of Christ and always working for something new that could not have been anticipated. If the world is ideological in the sense described above, we must get beyond the ideological. So beyond is not a third way that mediates between the two previous ways in conflict. It is a space where we are still able to be who we are. Indeed, we come more of who we are because, in this space, we can extend further into being faithful to Christ and his Kingdom.”
So it isn’t fight or flight. It is open up space for Christ to work. Dan White Jr. in his book Love over fear would calls this affection. To pull up a chair, invite people over for a meal, sit with them, listen to their story, ask questions, and pray for God to open up the space for healing to happen.
This is the space beyond enemies. And the table is a crucial part of opening up the space. My prayer is that this book will help all of us (because we are really in this together as followers of Jesus) make space for Christ and His Spirit to work and move us beyond an us vs. them church.
Do yourself a favor. Pick up this book. And may it help us to regain the call of Jesus to love. And instead of seeing us vs them, to just see us.